Do you use Air Miles?
Crazy as it seems - considering I live to travel and we spend quite a bit of money at the LCBO - we do not.
Air Miles are a huge, Canada-wide, loyalty-incentive program, and the LCBO is the provincially controlled wine and liquor retailer in Ontario. The LCBO awards one Air Mile for every $25 spent there.
When we first moved to Canada, someone told me Air Miles were not actually redeemable for air travel, but only for "rewards," i.e., designated junk at designated stores. And I believed them. I took a cursory glance at the website, saw all the store logos and "merchandise rewards," and didn't sign up.
Plus, I'm like an addict when it comes to loyalty programs. I purposely don't get a lot of loyalty cards, because when I have them, I let them control all my spending habits. When I had a card from Athlete's Foot - buy 10 pairs of sneakers, get the 11th at half price - I went out of my way to buy my sneakers there, to a ridiculous degree. I had a punch-card from a salad place in Rockefeller Centre. I lived for that 12th, free salad. You get the picture.
I don't like this consumer behaviour, and I get tired of being asked for points cards everywhere I go, so I avoid most of the cards in the first place. I only use the ones that give you a discount on the spot, like Chapters or PetSmart.
Well, that's not completely true. We collect Petro Points, but then, we have to buy gas anyway. And I am filling up cards from Extreme Pita, but I love those pitas! Do you see what I mean?
Anyway... Combine this loyalty-addict tendency with my incorrect belief that Air Miles don't really buy free travel, and we never signed up.
So do you collect Air Miles? Do you use them? Is it a good program, where you can easily redeem your points for travel? Are the travel awards highly restricted? Can you put a bunch of points towards air travel, and pay for the balance, or do you have to collect all the points needed, and pay entirely with points? Are there a lot of catches, in general? I don't want to save points for years just to learn that I can't use them for this or that, or that they expired, or some other surprise.
I've looked at the FAQs on the Air Miles website, but I'd like to hear from people who've actually used them.
And then, how do I live with our two years of LCBO purchases from which we didn't get Air Miles?? I don't think you can answer that one.